Delaware Horror Story Part 3

As David reached out his hand, the woman said, “No David.  You mustn’t.  You must never harm your grandfather.”  David knew what a father was but what made someone grand as a father?  The elderly man had bright blue eyes and white hair.  David had blue eyes as well.  But the lines on the old man’s face were deep, as if each year left a mark on the man.  The woman was young.  She had long red hair and deep green eyes.  She didn’t speak the same language as the man did at first, but he sensed some of it in her normal language.

“David, my name is Astrid.  And this is your grandfather, Jacob,” the woman said.  It was dark outside.  The streets were not normal.  Instead of being flat, they had round rocks.  David looked down at them, questioning why.  “These are cobblestones David,” Jacob said.  “From a time long before you and I.  We are in a country called Sweden.  And now we are in their city called Stockholm.  And this is one of the oldest parts of the city still standing.  We are in Gamla Stan, which means Old Town in our language.”

David looked at Jacob with a puzzled look.  He still didn’t comprehend this “grandfather” thing.  Jacob pulled out a picture of his father, when he was 14 years old.  “This is my son, William.  He is your father.  That makes me your grandfather.”  Jacob understood.  This old man was his father’s father.

The earliest memory David had been one of the magic place.  It was like a place with constant evolution.  One minute it would be snowing and the next it would be bright and sunny and warm.  This is where David lived most days.  He was comfortable there and it filled him with happiness.  The adventures he had in this place were beyond the imagining.  This was David’s home.  He didn’t like it when he dreamed of the real world.  He was in this real world dream now.  There were always questions and nothing made sense.

David heard of this man Jacob.  When he dreamed of the real world, he would hear his mom and dad talking about him.  His mother would tell his father he needed to let it go and they had to concentrate on David.  He remembered one time when his mother told him, “David, one day you will need to wake up.  You will have to become one with the world and survive.”  When David got to the mountain, he dreamed about the real world the whole time.  He wasn’t able to be home, in the land where nothing stayed the same.  To dream was to survive.

“Astrid,” said Jacob. “David looks very confused.  He needs to eat.  We need to take him down to the bistro before the roll call begins.  He may look normal now, but if anyone sees the number on him, they will know.  We didn’t do all of this just to lose him now.”

Astrid reached out her hand to David.  David trusted her for some reason.  She seemed familiar to him but he couldn’t place it.  He touched her fingers as they curled around his.  David looked up at her.  An empty stare with no emotion.  He wanted to tell her how he felt.  That she was okay to him.  But he couldn’t.  Not unless he was home.  When he dreamed of this place, he could never talk.  Just watch.  And listen.  And absorb.  And react.  He felt trapped, like the Beast of Leaftear at home when the creature was defeated in the Battle of Leaftear Ending.  The Beast threatened them all.  He wanted to take over the city of Leaftear and kill them all.  David saved the day when he beat the Beast at a game of Kaleidoscope.  The Leaftearians knew they didn’t have the physical strength to beat The Beast so they relied on their greatest hero in a game of wits.  Afterwards, the Beast sat in his cage for all time and never made a sound.  It ate food, it breathed, and it would even snore at night sometimes, but no words ever came out of his mouth.  That was how David felt when he dreamed of the real world.

****************

William woke up to a loud pounding on his door.  “MEF #313056, you have ten minutes to get dressed and shower.  Breakfast at 0500.”  William grabbed the towel and uniform and made his way to the showers.  They smelled like ancient mildew but the water coming out of the showers felt like hot on a warm summer day.  He got dressed and went to the Convening Room on the sub-levels.  The Colonel gave the daily orders to the MEF.  William received his: “Disinfectant Recognition”.  Inside the packet was a list of instructions for the duty.  William felt his stomach turn inside out.  He remembered this technique from an old television show he watched on something called YouTube.  Some show called Breaking Bad.  The body would be placed in a barrel with acid.  It removed any trace of identity from the victim.  The 12 families called this “extra assurance”.  Not that any parent of one of the Specials could ever claim the body or sue the MEF.  Most of them didn’t even know about the Mountain.

William didn’t know if he could go through with this.  He had to find David in here, or find out if…  the thought was too much for William to handle.  At times like this, William’s self-instinct took over with a fight or flight mechanism.  To escape the impending feeling of a loss too terrible to cope with, William would count to 32.  He came this far and he knew if he couldn’t find the location of his son here he never would.  One of the guards came into the room and whispered to the Colonel.  William couldn’t hear it, but he heard the letters AU at the end of it.  The Colonel shouted “That is impossible.  What do you mean he is gone?  That doesn’t happen.  Not here.  Find him.  NOW!”

“We have a new problem,” claimed the Colonel.  “One of the Specials is missing.  An autistic boy, 12 years old, blonde hair, blue eyes.  #112877AU.  He disappeared two days ago.  There will be no disposal today.  All non-molding staff are to actively search for this boy and find him.  The first person to find him will get an extra hour for lunch or dinner.  The first daughter of the Markell family is coming to the Mountain later today and we are ruined if word gets out we can’t account for one of them.”

****************

Jax sipped the water very slowly.  At 103 years old, she knew she didn’t have much time left.  She had to make sure they understood.  There wasn’t much time left before the purging videos came out.  She carefully placed agents into the Mountain to show the world what was happening there.  Even though the people couldn’t see them, the word would spread.  Fifty-five percent of the population, either dead or on a timetable for execution.  She looked out the window to see what used to be Legislative Hall.  Spread out over the entirety of the Green, it was home to the Markell family of Delaware.  One of the Twelve.  The rulers of the world.  She missed her friends, those who fought so gallantly to prevent this.  She remembered the dying breath of the unions when President Markell signed the order.  By that point, the unions were just minions of the Twelve anyways.  She had been kicked out years before it was official.  During the Red Clay-Christina riot, she watched as the Markell guards beat her friends into submission.  She did not escape unscathed.  A bullet tore into her left kneecap with such velocity it would never be the same again.

Delaware became an island unto itself during the Great Icescape Melt of 2042.  The Markell family built the polymer walls stopping the waters from taking over.  It was too late for Southern Sussex County.  The wall stood south of Milford with nothing but a liquid graveyard to the south of it.  That was the last time she saw her friend, the blogger.  He went down there to find someone, but no one ever saw him after that.  But he left very careful instructions for her.  About what to do if anything ever happened to William, his grandson.  It was Jax who supplied William with the knowledge of what came before.  The device was a treasure trove that explained everything.  All the information the people in power conveniently laughed at and ignored until it was too late.  She missed the resistance.  They came so close.  It would have stopped everything that came to pass.  They let him in thinking he had changed, that he was no longer brainwashed by the Markells.  They were wrong.  Trusting Earl was the worst mistake Jax ever made…

Part 1

Part 2

Editor’s note: I began this story last fall.  It became very dark, very quickly.  Faster than I could take.  As the Every Student Succeeds Act became a reality, I saw this potential future unfolding right in front of me.  A system designed to offer so much promise to the unsuspecting, but laced with poison.  Right now, regulations coming from ESSA are being discussed by politicians, policy-makers, educators, and corporate education reformers throughout the country.  For those who have followed this blog, some of the names in here are very familiar.  But the reality is that every single state has those who opposed what is happening to public education.  This is a story of the last heroes of Delaware in a potential future.  It is meant to be a warning sign of grossly exaggerated proportions.  One hundred years ago, someone could have written a similar story of a whole group of European Jews who were summarily executed just for their faith.  Many would have laughed and ridiculed such a notion.  Not in our time… history is filled with such apathy towards itself.  It is merely a cycle of cascading events with a rise and fall, over and over again.  It is also filled with those who try to fight the future and prevent the same cycle from repeating itself.

Delaware Horror Story Part 2

The Mountain was a massive place, nestled in the Pyrenees chain in France.  The companies that ran America bought the mountain from the French during the last Depression twenty years ago.  Prior to the purchase, the Mountain was known as Bugarach.  In 2012, when doomsayers thought the world was going to end based on the Mayan Apocalypse, they flooded the village at the bottom of the mountain.  As a result, the villagers watched their tiny little town become a freak-show tourist attraction.  The Mountain is a rare geological feature since it is upside down.  The top layers are actually older than the lower.  Inside the mountain is a vast labyrinth of caves, which was perfect for what the companies wanted to do.  There is even an underground river flowing underneath the mountain that flows into the Mediterranean basin, which is perfect for tapping into a water source that is untarnished by man’s pollution.

Tales of aliens and faeries surround the history of the Mountain.  Explorers disappeared without a trace, never to be found again.  Stories going back for millennia have Jesus and Mary Magdalene travelling through the region, dropping off the Holy Grail, and travelling on.  The Knights Templar were the guards for the rumored couple, but nothing has ever been proven one way or another with these theories.  Others believe Bugarach was an alien airport of some sort.  Some say the mountain is haunted.  If it wasn’t before the Specials arrived, it certainly had the chance to become so.

William got his gear and was told to go to the 4th floor dormitory, Room 423C.  After navigating around trying to find the elevator, William noticed Specials walking around.  He was horrified to see numbers on their foreheads.  When he looked closer, he could see small letters after the numbers.  One girl had 164757AU.  A young man had 734988TS.  A toddler had 045295AS.  William guessed what the letters stood for.  AU was Autism, TS was Tourette Syndrome, and AS was Asperger’s Syndrome.  He would see some that said OD, but they were few and far between.  The oppositional defiant ones most likely didn’t thrive in this type of militaristic environment.  He reached the elevator, but he opted to look around some more.  William heard a low mumbling sound coming from behind a door.  He opened it to see a vast auditorium.  Inside were thousands of children, watching a movie of some sort.  Guards were positioned throughout the room.  “What are you doing in here newbie?” a voice shouted at William.  He jumped back and hit his head against the stone wall.   “Sorry, I must have taken a wrong turn.”  William showed his id and went on his way.  Down the vast chamber he saw what appeared to be a struggle.  He prayed his son was not in this bizarre land, but he knew better.

William had no idea how to find his son, much less what he would do next if he did.  The Specials were prisoners there, and like the Jews of the concentration camps of old, they were marked.  His living quarters consisted of a small cot, a sink, a toilet, and a dresser.  He began to wonder if he was a captive as well.  Jetlagged and weary, William quickly put his clothes away and wrapped a blanket tightly around him in the cold and damp room.  Underneath the covers, William pulled out a small device.  His father gave it to him when he was ten years old.  William looked around the room and found a plug socket.  He carefully connected the device to the charger and plugged it in. With three terabytes used up on the device, William had literary company to last him the next forty years.  He didn’t have that time and his son’s time was rapidly running out.

His grandfather stored all of his old blog posts on the device.  Ever since the companies took away the internet from the rest of the world, aside from the classroom, news was very hard to come by.  William always went to the pictures first.  He enjoyed seeing the images of his father and grandfather from the early days of the 21st Century.  The last vestige of freedom humanity would enjoy.  Many of the names in his grandfather’s articles were strangers to him.  Everyone knew who Jack and Paul were, but other names would come up and disappear just as fast.  William read about his grandparents’ struggles with Delaware education.  While most of the credit goes to his grandfather, his grandmother was just as important.  She kept reality alive for his grandfather.  There would be endless nights where he would just investigate only to watch the sun rise.  His wife grounded him, and she kept the focus on their son.  William’s father.  He had not seen his father for a long, long time.  He always wondered where he was or if he was even alive.  The last time he saw his father was the night his grandmother passed.  His father’s anguish was very real, but with his Tourette Syndrome it caused him to lose control.  Before he knew it, the police were taking his father away.  William was fifteen, and his world ended that evening.

William pulled out the headphones and listened to the old and ancient music his father stored on the device.  Nobody made music anymore.  It was a thing of the past.  Luckily, William’s grandfather enjoyed all kinds of music so he had a wide variety to pick from.  His favorite was the symphonies.  It stirred his imagination like nothing else and took him away to worlds where hope and dreams were still alive.  As he began to enter the twilight of his day, William closed his eyes and pictured his son.  His beautiful boy who was probably the most frightened person on the planet.  David was never one to shy away from fear, but William knew he would need to one day if he wanted to survive.  David’s mother prayed the day they took David to the Disability Center.  He would always retreat away from the world, as if he were somewhere else only he knew.  He would not respond to any human voices, just smiling and rocking back and forth, back and forth.  William hoped he was happy wherever his mind took him.  When David would snap out of his trance, sometimes days later, he would become very angry and resentful.  His parents didn’t know how to handle things but they knew if he went to the Disability Center there was a very strong chance they would never see him again.

Eventually, William feel asleep.  He didn’t dream much these days.

David woke up and everything was dark.  He smelled pine and he reached out his hand.  He felt the wood rub against his finger.  He wanted to scream but he couldn’t make the sound.  He heard a noise, like someone was tearing the wood with their bare hands.  One of walls around him fell down and he could see the sun peeking in.  A man and a woman stepped forward.  The man began to speak. “Välkommen till Gamla Stan David,” the man said.  David gave him a puzzling look.  “Sorry David, it has been a while since I spoke English.  Welcome to Old Town.”  David started to lunge toward the man.  The woman put out her hand.  “No David.  You mustn’t.  You must never harm your grandfather.”

To be continued…

Part 1

Delaware Horror Story

William knew it was the end.  He saw it for a very long time.  If only they had listened years before, none of this would have happened.  As the last of the children entered the truck, a tear fell down his face.  Ever since the great purge and the advent of full personalized learning, he knew this would be the result.

Back then, during the days of his grandfather, the teachers knew they would be gone in a matter of time.  They were no longer teachers.  They were following the script.  The teacher was the monitor, giving the same lesson to all of them.  At first, the children were glued to the screens.  They couldn’t ask questions because there was no one there to answer them.  Some tried, but they were given a demerit if they interrupted the Digital Lead.  This was the teacher’s job now, to oversee the flow of the construct.  Children who caused too many problems were simply removed from the program.  There was no more special education and no compassion.  Homeschooling was negated years prior by legislative decree and with the economic downfall, all parents had to work in order to survive unless they belonged to one of the twelve companies.  They were hard times for all, but no one could do a damn thing about it.  The unions were broken up in the last days of the rebellion, and the companies finally reached their coveted goal: complete control of education.

The children who didn’t make the cut were sent to the centers.  Cruel people ran them.  They had no soul or compassion for these troubled kids.  The children were forced to watch behavior modification videos all day long.  If they acted out, they were sent to the dark rooms, for hours on end.  There would be days where a child disappeared and wouldn’t be seen for weeks.  When they reemerged into the Community Room, something was lost inside of them.  They could no longer feel, or speak, or show any emotion at all.  This would last for months until slowly the heart of who they are would start to come out again.  This happened to every single child that went to the centers.  In the past, they would have received an Individualized Education Plan or in conjunction with that they would go to a special school to handle the most severe of disabilities.  But the personalized learning could not accommodate their needs at all, so hard choices were made.

Everyone felt the Specials, as they were now labeled, would never become productive members of society.  It was very rare that any of these students broke through the Common Core and the standardized testing, so they did what they felt was best.  Parents fought the new laws for a long time, but the companies prevailed.  Once the Medicaid system broke in Delaware, and these children were not given the medical freedom, their disabilities spiraled out of control.  Parents couldn’t afford all the doctor appointments and medicine.  With no special education, the children could not sustain the classroom environment.  As more and more children filled the day centers, they needed to build larger and larger centers.  The day centers soon became just the centers.

The cost for the centers was extremely cheap.  The children were given the most basic food, and the labor was minimum wage.  The doctors that worked at the centers had no background checks and no references were checked.  Nobody wanted to work there except those who had to survive.  Every once in a while a doctor from one of the centers would protest about the inhumane treatment, but this was an exercise in futility.  The doctors were told to shut up or quit.  If they did neither, they were simply terminated with no due process involved.

After some time, the behavior modification videos simply stopped working.  The desired effect was gone as the specials became immune to it.  Nobody knew why.  So with no medicine and no videos, and no true adult supervision, the centers became a madhouse.  Dark and gruesome tales spun out of the centers as the special slowly took them over.  It was chaos unleashed.  Nobody truly knew what happened inside of them, but every once in a while a doctor or orderly would escape and speak about the specials.  The parents of the Specials begged to see their children, but visiting days were over.  The companies knew they had to take drastic measures.

William saw this happening, and he knew his son would be lost to him forever if he went to the Mountain.  He tried to get a job at one of the centers, but once it was revealed his son attended, he was blacklisted from working at any of them.  The companies elite forces would surround a center and dig tunnels underneath them.  They would unleash the knock-out gas through the drain system rendering all of the special unconscious.  The forces would swoop in and load of all the children into the trucks and take them to the airport hangar where they were loaded onto the cargo planes.  Once inside the planes, they were chained to their seats.  Many Specials died mid-flight as they would awaken and try to tear their bodies through the chains.  Some awoke and were so frightened they fell into a permanent trance never to communicate with anyone ever again.  They were trapped within their own mind, more so than ever before.

Once they arrived at the Mountain, the Specials were sent to the indoctrination auditorium.  They were told the rules by the voice on the screen.  The rules were simple: comply or die.  Millions died.  As the years went by, the numbers stretched to over a billion.

William had to save his son, if he was even still alive.  He spent a significant amount of money he saved up to have his fingerprints altered.  It was the only way the companies wouldn’t match him to his real identity.  One of the forgers matched the fingerprints to another person who had mysteriously disappeared and created documents to match their credentials.  William interviewed for the worst job in the world: a Military Elite Force (MEF).  The job of the MEF was to deal with the Specials who could no longer comply with the rules of the mountain.

During the trans-Atlantic flight to the Mountain, William remembered the stories his grandfather wrote about.  The days when parents still fought for their kids.  They would rally at Legislative Hall so they could get laws passed to honor their rights.  Teachers still spoke out back then, and this was years before the union purge.  His grandfather would tell him how this was all set up by some guy named Jack.  He was the leader of Delaware, and with a smile on his face he told families he was going to fix education.  The people believed him at first, but they soon realized the awful truths: that Jack was lying to them the whole time and it was all about power and politics and money.  It wasn’t about the kids at all.  Openly rebelling against the Government was not illegal yet, and William’s grandfather seemed to do it everyday.  He told tales of how close they came, him and some legislators, parents and teachers came to bringing it all down.  But they were betrayed by one of their own and all was lost.

Back in those days, the Specials were not as big as they were now.  They were growing though, and everyone knew it.  No one could tell if it was evolution, God’s plan, or just a tragic result of man’s tampering with dangerous chemicals that changed what the human body processed.  Back then, it was rare for a child to be ripped from its family.  There would actually be a tribunal or committee of some sort where the decision was made.  As the numbers swelled, so did the centers.  William’s father was a Special, and so was his son.  His beautiful boy, possibly lost to him forever.  He longed for the days of freedom when a parent’s voice meant something.  Instead, it was replaced with greed and avarice and compliance.  The only freedom that existed in the world now belonged to the very few who had the power and the resources necessary to live outside of the cities.

William sat by the window, looking at the stars.  It was so peaceful up here.  But then he remembered the horror his own son must have felt on the cargo plane.  His grandfather told him about the great atrocities committed against the Jews in World War II.  How one sick man and his agenda killed six million of them.  But that was 130 years ago.  It was happening again to those who were deemed different.  Those who could not fit in to the narrow society the companies created.  It all started with the data.  William’s grandfather warned them about the data.  He wrote about it but nobody listened.  Some laughed at him.  The only ones who took him seriously in Delaware were those who were afraid of what he would reveal.  Once everything came out in the open, it was too late.  The companies knew everything about every citizen in the country.  It wasn’t just about the education data.  A much bigger plan was hatched by the think tanks and consortiums in the governments and the companies.

When William was in school, he took the bus.  He left at 5:30 in the morning for the 6am  start.  When he got back home at 7:30 at night, he would spend time with his mom and dad for an hour or so and back to bed.  Seven days a week.  All his needs were taken care of at the school.  All his meals, his doctor visits, and the play time with friends from 2-3pm.  The school took care of everything.  When he was sick, he would stay in the school infirmary so his hard-working parents wouldn’t get sick and have to miss a day of work.  By the time his father was getting ready to graduate high school, schools had been transformed.  They were no longer just learning centers, they were full-scale wellness centers.  This was allowed through the ESEA Reauthorization of 2016.  Many parents objected, but the lobbyists won Congress over.  Children would get their immunization shots, and as part of the requirements for this, a blood sample was taken.  On the surface, it was to determine if any of the flu shots would cause an allergic reaction, but the result was more nefarious.  DNA was catalogued and tracked.  Genetic markers were determined.  The companies wanted to isolate the Specials from the rest of the population.  When William’s father was in school, the Special population was anywhere from 15-20% of the population.  When William’s son was born, it had mushroomed to 55%.

When William arrived at the Mountain, he was given three guns, a knife, and his uniform.  The inside of the mountain could only be described as an underground mall.  There were stores, restaurants, and offices.  The specials roamed around freely.  To an outside observer it would seem like an ordinary place.  But it was not.  It was a place of death and submission.  William’s father received his assignment…disposal…

To be continued…